Joel & Victoria Osteen: Become a Better You
God didn’t create you so that you can just be average. He wants to do more in and through you than you could ever imagine. Whether life is going well for you or collapsing right before your eyes, we all want to be better. We want to be more effective in our lives. We want to be better parents, employees, spouses and better Christians. The question we are most often left with is - ‘How?’
Joel Osteen answers these questions in his latest book, ‘Become a better you’. According to Osteen, it all comes down to not only praying that God comes through for you, but that you also do your part. So if you are tired of settling for second best, if you want to advance to the next level and become a better you, begin by focusing on the following seven principles:
Keep pressing forward
Too many people are living far below their potential. They are satisfied with their past successes and have become comfortable with their lives the way they are. God is a progressive God and no matter where we are in life, God has more in store! He never wants us to quit growing. We should always be reaching for new heights in our abilities, in our spiritual walk, in our finances, careers and personal relationships. If you’re a teacher, you haven’t taught your best lesson yet. If you’re a businessman, you haven’t negotiated your best deal yet. Your best days are not behind you, they are in front of you.
Get rid of low expectations and don’t make little plans for your life. Don’t have little dreams. You are a child of the Most High God and you have everything you need to fulfil your God-given destiny. He has already created you with the talent, creativity, discipline, wisdom and determination you need. You are full of potential and you were created to excel. There’s no limit to what you can accomplish if you will just learn to shake off complacency and keep stretching to the next level. “All of My days you ordained before one of them came to be.” Ps 139:16
Be positive toward yourself
It is so easy to dwell on your past mistakes and failures. We tell ourselves things like: “I should have spent more time with my family” or we hear a voice in our head saying, “You gave, but you didn’t give enough.” By listening to these negative thoughts we start to feel guilty, condemned and extremely discontented with ourselves. We lose our joy and confidence and that is exactly what the enemy wants.
We need to stop putting ourselves down. We cannot live in guilt today because of something that happened yesterday. We cannot change the past and we need to live today in victory, not condemnation. Immediately go to God and say, “Father, I’m sorry. I repent. Help me to do better next time.” Then you need to receive God’s forgiveness and mercy and move on. You may not feel like you deserve it, and the fact is, none of us do. But that’s what grace is all about. We are not worthy in ourselves, but because of the sacrifice that Jesus made in our place, God’s grace is more than sufficient for any sins we may commit. No matter how many mistakes you have made, the Father stands waiting just as in the parable of the prodigal son. He stands before you with His arms held wide open. If you are far from where you know you ought to be, you need to know that God is waiting for you, and the moment you take one step toward Him, your Father will come running to you.
Remember, God’s mercy and grace is sufficient for you, no matter what.
Develop better relationships
If you want your life to increase, if you want your life to get better, then you need to help improve somebody else’s. If you will help somebody else become successful, God will make sure that you are successful. Most people will not reach their full potential without somebody else believing in them. For this reason it is very important that we should always be encouraging people, building them up, challenging them to reach new heights. When people are around us they should leave better off than they were previously.
Take time to make a difference. Don’t just obsess about how you can make your own life better. Think about how you can make somebody else’s life better as well. When you encourage someone, don’t focus on who they are right now, rather focus on who they can become. See the potential on the inside. They may have some bad habits, or they may be doing some things that you don’t like, but don’t judge them for it. Rather find some way to challenge them to rise higher. As a rule, you don’t bring out the best in someone by condemning and criticising, you bring out the best by loving them. Find something they are doing right and encourage them for that. If you treat people the way you want them to be, they are much more likely to become that sort of person.
The closest thing to God’s heart is helping others.
Form better habits
Your habits, whether good or bad, will greatly determine your future. One study says that 90 percent of our everyday behaviour is based on our habits; how we treat people, how we spend our money, what we watch, what we listen to – 90 percent of the time we simply do what we’ve always done. If you want to change your life you must start by consciously changing your daily habits. You can’t keep doing the same thing you’ve been doing and expect different results.
Are you always late getting to work? Do you worry all the time? Do you overeat? Do you regularly succumb to addictions? It can even be something as simple as an attitude. If you don’t change your unproductive habits you can go for years wasting time and energy and that is not God’s best.
You can change!
The good news is that you can change. You can develop better habits. Most studies of habitual behaviour indicate that a habit can be broken in anything from 21 days to 6 weeks. In other words, if you will discipline yourself for a month or so, and be willing to suffer through the pain of change, you can rid yourself of a negative behaviour, form a new healthy habit, and rise to a new level of personal freedom.
“All things are permissible to me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but I will not be mastered by anything.” 1 Cor 6:12
Our habits become part of our character. If you allow yourself to be disorganised or you are always running late, that becomes a part of who you are. The first step towards changing is to identify what’s holding you back. Identify any bad habits and then make a decision to do something about them. It is very important that for every bad habit you want to break, find a new healthy habit to replace it. For example, you can’t simply decide to stop worrying. You have to replace the negative thoughts with positive faith-filled thoughts.
Don’t put it off any longer. Today can be a new beginning!
Embrace the place where you are
You may not be in a great place in your life right now, but resisting and fighting against your current circumstances may not be the answer. If we really believe that God is in control and is directing our steps, then we must believe that we are exactly where we are supposed to be. We need to start handing our lives over to God by praying, “God, I am trusting You. I know that You are in control of my life. I may not understand everything that is happening, but I believe You have my best interests at heart.”
Rest in the Lord
The Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Ps 46:10. You need to be at peace with where you are right now. Things may not be perfect. You may have some areas in which you need to improve, but if you can get to a place of peace, God can fight your battles for you. He can turn your negative situations around and use them for good.
Hebrews 4:3 says, “Those who have believed enter in to the rest of God.” Being in God’s rest means that although you may have a problem, you trust Him to take care of it. It means that you may have a situation that you don’t understand, but you are not constantly trying to figure it out. It means you have a dream in your heart, but you are not in a hurry, you’re not frustrated because it hasn’t come to fruition yet. In other words, when you are really in God’s rest, you know that God has you in the palm of His Hand.
Be obedient to God
Throughout life, God will deal with us and bring areas to light where we need to improve. He often speaks to us through our conscience, or through a still, small voice. He knows the things that are holding us back. He knows our weaknesses, faults, and the inner secrets that we keep hidden. When He brings these matters to our attention, we have to be willing to face the truth about ourselves and take the corrective measures God commands. Whenever we obey, a blessing follows. It may not happen overnight, but at some point, in some way, you will see God’s goodness in your life to a greater measure.
Anything God asks you to do is for your benefit. Also, anything God asks of us, He always gives the grace to do it. If God asks you to forgive somebody, you may not think you can, but if you will take that step of faith, God’s grace will be there to help you. You don’t get the grace unless you step out. You have to make the first move. Deal with the issues God brings to light and learn to obey quickly. How high you go in life will be directly related to how obedient you are.
“To whom much is given, much is required.” Luke 12:48
Stay passionate about life
If you want to become a better you, it is important to put the right actions along with your faith. It’s not enough to believe. We have to take it one step further and start expecting. While we are expecting good things from God, we should be making plans. We need to talk as if what we are praying about is going to happen.
Start preparing for good things. Get your faith going in the right direction. Start making plans to live a blessed, prosperous, healthy, joy-filled, abundant, long life. “For He will do exceedingly above all you can ask or imagine.” Eph 3:20.